To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
14 messages

Lyr Req: My Boy Jack

12 Oct 02 - 04:30 AM (#801604)
Subject: Lyr. re My Boy Jack
From: GUEST,Kipling

Does anyone know the words to a short song I remember hearing on a Peter Bellamy CD called Bellamy, Mr.Kipling and the tradition I think.
Some of the songs are Kipling's poems and some are Bellamys as well as a few others thyrown in. I'm not sure who wrote this one.

I know a few of the words, they go something like this:
Have you heard any news of my boy jack?
Not this time-
Do you know when he'll be coming back?
Not with the wind blowing and this time.

It's a lovely little song in my opinion a bit sad though.
Hope someone can help- that would be great!

12 Oct 02 - 06:10 AM (#801627)
Subject: Lyr Add: MY BOY JACK (Rudyard Kipling)
From: The Walrus

Rudyard Kipling

"HAVE you news of my boy Jack?"
    Not this tide.
"When d'you think that he'll come back?"
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

"Has any one else had word of him?"
    Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
    Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

"Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?"
    None this tide,
    Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind—
    Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
    This tide,
    And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
    And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

taken from Kipling site


12 Oct 02 - 06:17 AM (#801630)
Subject: Lyr Add: MY BOY JACK (R Kipling, P Bellamy)
From: nutty

Kipling ..... the poem was by Rudyard Kipling and the tune by Peter Bellamy.


Have you news of my boy Jack?
Not this tide
When d'you think he'll come back?
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide

Has anyone else had word of him?
Not this tide
For what is sunk will hardly swim
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide

Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?
None this tide
Nor any tide
Except he did not shame his kind
Not even with this wind blowing, and this tide

Then hold your head up all the more
This tide
And every tide
Because he was the son you bore
And gave to that wind blowing, and that tide

12 Oct 02 - 11:44 PM (#802055)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Boy Jack
From: GUEST,Kipling

Thankyou so much for that speedy response. I was afraid it was a song few people had heard /or heard of and it would be a thread that would dissappear of the bottom of the list with no response.

It is a lovely song. I don't know which year it was but I understand that in his anxiousness for his son to join the army he lost him within a short time of him leaving his father. I think Kiping as any father would be was completely beside himself- maybe with guilt. This makes the words of the song and the sentiments all the more powerful.

Does anybody know if this song is believed to be based on the loss of his own son?

13 Oct 02 - 11:39 AM (#802238)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Boy Jack
From: pavane

I believe that is true that it is based on the loss of his son. I think the song is to be found on 'Keep on Kipling'.

14 Oct 02 - 03:53 AM (#802636)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Boy Jack
From: nutty

I believe the guilt was compounded by the fact that the son was actually too young to join the army but Kipling had signed the papers allowing him to do so.

25 Aug 20 - 03:48 AM (#4069534)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Boy Jack
From: Noreen

The link above to the “Kipling site” no longer goes anywhere.
Here instead is a link to the words at an extensive Kipling resource: My Boy Jack

25 Aug 20 - 10:36 AM (#4069582)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Boy Jack
From: DaveRo

The Kipling Society has extensive notes to most of his poems: Notes to My Boy Jack

The site has a list of musical settings too, which lists 7 for this poem.

25 Aug 20 - 10:47 AM (#4069583)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Boy Jack
From: Charmion

John Kipling was not only very young (but not too young to serve), he was also even more myopic than his father, falling well short of British Army recruiting standards even in the Great War.

But "My Boy Jack" was actually written about John Travers Cornwell, known as Jack, who was a 16-year-old "Boy First Class" when he died at his post aboard the cruiser HMS Chester during the Battle of Jutland. Awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously, Boy Cornwell was the youngest VC of the Great War, and the third-youngest ever.

John Kipling was a Second Lieutenant in the Irish Guards when he disappeared in September 1915, during the Second Battle of Loos. I don't think his father would have used nautical symbolism in a poem about him. Also, to the best of my knowledge, he was not called Jack.

25 Aug 20 - 02:00 PM (#4069599)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Boy Jack
From: BTMP

There is also a fairly good movie ‘My Boy Jack’ starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame. This Jack is Kipling’s son.

25 Aug 20 - 09:38 PM (#4069646)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Boy Jack
From: keberoxu

I was wondering when someone would mention what is in the previous post.
Just looked it up on IMDb.

Actor David Haig, this interpretation is his baby.
He wrote a theatrical play, to start with,
which opened in 1997.

The filmed version (Masterpiece Theatre?) was ten years later.
Haig plays Rudyard Kipling, and as you say,
Daniel Radcliffe is John Kipling.

Charmion, thank you for your attention to Kipling's original,
the details are new to me although they don't surprise me.
It also doesn't surprise me that people, like actor/writer David Haig,
would re-interpret the story to make it more appealing.
I saw the film when televised in the United States.
It focuses entirely on the father-son tragedy,
and makes much of John Kipling's American-born mother.
Then at the end, there is a heart-to-heart
between Rudyard Kipling and his monarch, George V, who has just endured
the loss of his epileptic son John ("The Lost Prince").
To his grieving king, David Haig, as Kipling,
recites 'My boy Jack' and that is how the film ends ...
very moving ...
and no mention whatever
of John Travers Cornwell.

25 Aug 20 - 09:51 PM (#4069648)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Boy Jack
From: keberoxu

Here is some more information on John Kipling's grave.

Grave of Rudyard Kipling's Son

26 Aug 20 - 01:10 AM (#4069659)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Boy Jack
From: Reinhard

To quote from the Kipling Society's Notes to My Boy Jack referred to by DaveRo a few posts earlier:

The ‘Jack’/John confusion

The modern understanding of the poem has been bedevilled by the presumption that ‘Jack’ of the poem is to be equated with Kipling’s son John, an identification set in motion by David Haig in his playscript ‘My Boy Jack’, first published and performed in 1997.

This identification was reinforced in 1998 by Major and Mrs. Holt’s book entitled My Boy Jack? The Search for Kipling’s Only Son (latest edition 2007) and further reinforced by the television film "My Boy Jack". Derived from Haig’s play, it was first shown in the UK to an audience approaching six million on Remembrance Day 2007 and premiered in the United States in April 2008. For these viewers, the John=Jack equation is cemented in the closing shot where Haig, playing Kipling, reads the poem to himself. This equation, supported by the University of Sussex, was further endorsed by the Imperial War Museum in its "My Boy Jack" exhibition from November 2007 to February 2008. Yet, exactly as John signed his last letter home, written when he was close to the front line, a letter from the Sussex archive, prominent in the publicity for the exhibition, within the family John was John, never Jack, Jack being the name of the family dog.

Given the occasion of the poem, heading the reports on the Battle of Jutland with its great loss of life, ‘Jack’ is evidently the eponymous Jack Tar; and if one is seeking to attach the poem to any individual ‘Jack’, that would be young John Cornwell, the boy sailor (referred to in the press as ‘the Boy Jack’) whose bravery at the Battle of Jutland was recognised with the award of a posthumous Victoria Cross on 15 September 1916.

But even that identification was overridden by Kipling in the Inclusive Edition (1919) in which he added the years ‘1914-18’ below the title, so disengaging the poem from its original Jutland context, and its possible association with Jack Cornwell, and transforming it into an in memoriam tribute for all those who died at sea and conveying words of stern comfort for those who mourned them.

A judicious view of the John/Jack issue is taken by Andrew Lycett when he remarks that "My Boy Jack" reveals that Kipling ‘could call on a vast reservoir of pain at the loss of his son’ (p. 471), a comment that does not require us to make any identifications but points to the one of the poem’s most immediate emotional sources.

26 Aug 20 - 01:40 AM (#4069661)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Boy Jack
From: BTMP

I appreciate the clarification. I visited the Kipling Society website and read the John/Jack section. Perhaps if the film had been named differently, this may have reduced the confusion vis a vis the name Jack. Since many Johns are nicknamed Jack, it’s easy to make a false assumption. Nevertheless, the film is quite good.